Five National Elite Championship fights to look out for today

The National Elite Championships are back. A busy Saturday awaits with semi-final and final places in one of the strongest tournaments in recent years up for grabs at the National Stadium on the South Circular Road.

There are plenty of quality fights to take in but we’ve picked five that we feel stand out for differing reasons.

57kg Adam Hession (Monivea) V Patryk Adamus (Drimnagh)

A battle of champions with recent history, what’s not to get excited about Adam Hession and Patryk Adamus opening the show at the Stadium this afternoon?

Driminagh’s Adamus tasted Senior success in 2019 while Hession of Monivea fame was crowned king in 2021. The pair shared an entertaining three rounds in the Irish Third Level Championship decider last March.

The Dubliner took the win via split decision and Hession will be hoping to turn the tables today.

50kg Caitlin Fryers (Immaculata A) V Carly McNaul (Ormeau Road)

It’s Commonwealth silver medalist versus European silver medal winner. ‘Wrecking Ball’ versus ‘Pocket Rocket’.

Carly McNaul and Caitlin Fryers battle it out in what has the potential to be an extremely entertaining Belfast derby.

Ormeau’s McNaul has had a real resurgence over the last year or so, winning Commonwealth silver in Birmingham last summer and added another Ulster title to her CV in December.

She begins the year as top-five world-ranked fighter and comes with all the confidence that brings. However, her International teammate and the latest Mac lady stand between the 33-year-old and a semi-final spot in a stacked Olympic weight.

Fryers cemented her status as an Elite operator last year with a European Championship silver medal win and will have Paris plans of her own.

66kg Kaci Rock (Enniskerry) V Amy Broadhurst (St Bronaghs)

Such was the entry list in 66kgs that it was always going to serve up mouth-watering action. However, we didn’t have to wait until the main course to get something appetizing, the first fight at the weight is more than enough to sink your teeth into.

The first fight of Kaci Rock’s title defence comes against none other than Amy Broadhurst. The international teammates will put friendship aside for three rounds and battle for a national final berth in an Olympic weight.

As reigning World, Commonwealth and European Champion Broadhurst will enter the fight as favourite – but the Louth sensation is moving up another weight class and into Rock’s world. The daughter of record pro-Irish title victor Jim Rock won’t give up her title without a fight and will possibly feel more at home at what is her natural weight.

It’s certainly intriguing and it’s bound to be entertaining.

Leanne Murphy versus Grainne Walsh is another interesting fight at the weight and one not to be missed.

63kg Shauna Browne O’Keefe (Clonmel) V Eve Woods (DCU/Defence F)

It’s somewhat a case of the old versus the new in this intriguing clash, although we’ve more of Eve Woods than Shana O’Keefe in recent years.

Popular Dublin prospect, Woods won National Under-22 honours last year and travelled to Porec to represent her country in the European Under-22s.

As a result, the inner city youngster has been earmarked as one to watch going into the latest instalment of the Elites, with fight followers keen to see if the success continues at senior level.

Woods steps into the unknown on Saturday albeit against a well known name in Clonmel’s O’Keefe. The Tipp fighter’s face won’t be new to the Stadium, although she hasn’t fought in a few years, meaning it’s hard to gauge what level she will compete at.

O’Keefe has played a part in some important fights at the home of Irish boxing, not to mention enjoying her fair share of success.

The Munster fighter holds a place in Irish history considering she is the only woman face Katie Taylor in the national championships – and the fact she stepped up to fight the Irish Icon and gave the now undisputed lightweight world champion the chance to win a title in the ring gave her her own place in Irish fight fan hearts.

The Tipperary native also holds an amateur victory over Amy Broadhurst and was on the wrong end of a final defeat to another Olympic gold medal winner Kellie Harrington. As a result, the European Championship quarter-finalist brings a unique back story to a fight against a young gun only beginning to write her senior tale.

European underage medal winner Winnie McDonagh also makes her senior debut at 63kgs and takes on Renee Roach, who fights out of DCU.

70kg Christina Desmond (Dungarvan) V Evelyn Igharo (Clann Naofa)

Another indicator of just how strong these championships are is the fact another of Saturday’s most eagerly anticipated bouts takes place at a non-Olympic weight.

Christina Desmond confirmed she is an elite International fighter with a European silver medal win in 2022. The Cork fighter answered the call to step in for injured world champion Lisa O’Rourke and proved Ireland has huge dept at the weight by impressing her way to the podium. The Garda initially entered this tournament at 66 kg but appeared in the 70kg draw.

There was neutral disappointment as it took potential Grainne Walsh, Kaci Rock, Leanne Murphy and Amy Broadhurst bouts off the table.

However, it has led to an equally exciting encouther. The now very experienced talent, who is both a current crop star and old guard fighter takes on an underage talent who was backed to transition from underage standout to international of note in some quarters last year.

Defeat to Lisa O’Rourke, who she beat in the last Elite final, in the Under-22 decider proved a sliding doors moment for big punching Evelyn Igharo – and it was the Roscommon fighter who went on to have a break-out year.

The Clann Naofa talent has a chance to register a statement win this evening and re-introduce herself to the wider Irish follower.

An interesting clash between two talents at different ends of their career awaits.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com